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Clinical research studies dictate medicines we take and practices we follow. Dr. Woitowich explains:

  • The history and reasoning behind the practices of male-only subjects and how the resulting medical practices missed essential information.
  • What actions and legislation the National Health Institute and medical community has taken to revamp these practices.
  • Why issues of sex and gender are crucial in medical research.

Dr. Nicole Catherine Woitowich, Associate Director of Women’s Health Institute Research at Northwestern University, works to raise awareness of this issue and towards health equity across the board. To do so she addresses the misconception of hormone fluctuations that kept women out of past subject groups damaged test results. Rather, she notes, it is important to understand how hormones may change how medicines react to different people.

Her efforts address the missed knowledge of how many medicines truly function for different sexes and genders. Ambien, for example is one such medicine that works differently in the different sexes and therefore has added side effects for women.

She also suggests solutions for some of these restrictions. One such measure encourages pregnant women who already need to take various medicines to self-report symptoms or effects. This exemplifies the need for flexible thinking to create a more inclusive line of understanding medicines for all bodies and the importance of reaching out to a wider community.

Dr. Woitowich also recounts recent efforts by the National Health Institute to legislate and improve the system and raise awareness for considering sex and gender in health care and research. She emphasizes that this must include gender nonconforming , transgender, and nonbinary patients as well.

For more, see the Women’s Health Institute page at https://www.womenshealth.northwestern.edu/

Dr. Wotowich can be found on Twitter @NikiWoitowich and her email address is nicole.woitowich@northwestern.edu